Sustainable Harvested Bio-fuels Availability,
Advantages and Obstacles for Promotion.

Fatima Mubarak
Senior Environmental Officer
Environmental Center for Arab Towns- Dubai Municipality

There are several components such as climate change, the increase in demand for energy, high-energy prices and scarce energy resources that have basically led to the search for other alternative forms of energy sources that are systematic, impartial and eco-friendly. The emergence of biofuel is due to the interference of agricultural rural development and energy globally, and it has been one of the most important developments in the past few decades. Biofuel is a fuel derived recently from living organisms so called biomass or their metabolic by-products. They can be either in solid, liquid or gaseous states. Biofuels originated during the process of photosynthesis by which plants capture sunlight then uses it as feedstock for the production of biofuels.

Various plants and plants-derived materials are used to manufacture bio-fuels such as:

  • Algae, oil palm, soya beans
  • Wood and its by-products
  • Household, industrial, agricultural,
    forestry and wastes
  • Sugar crops
  • Flaxseed

The most common types of biofuels that are widely used now days are biodiesel and ethanol, they are used to empower engines, vehicles and generate electricity in fuel cells. In addition to that, biofuels are readily available resources that are known for their continued public support for renewable energy resources and climate control and mitigation. Although biofuel productions and investments are highly supported by many governments worldwide there are still some certain growing concerns about growing biomass for biofuel manufacturing. 32 Envirocities eMagazine Fatima Mubarak Senior Environmental Officer Environmental Center for Arab Towns- Dubai Municipality Email: Sustainable Harvested Bio-fuels Availability, Advantages and Obstacles for Promotion.

Bio-fuels Availability

According to Pike research in 2010 , the United Sates now directs the world bio-fuel market with about 44.7% share as seen in the following chart and figure below:

Why Bio-fuels?

The development of bio-fuels raises some important positive aspects which include the environmental aspects and economical aspect.

Green House Effects (GHG):

Bio-fuels burn cleaner than fossil fuels. They do not produce aromatics nor sulfur, so there aren’t any unpleasant odors associated with burning bio-fuels.

Hydrocarbon‐based fuels produce greater toxic by productions like carbon monoxide compared to bio-fuel which produces compounds like nitrogen oxides; but the bio-fuel by product is less hazardous to human wellbeing and the environment.They still release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide but do so at reduced levels. When you take both factors of (emissions produced and carbon ) into, bio-fuels are superior.According to new studies it has been estimated that bio-fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel may have a lower greenhouse-gas effect as compared to conventional fuels. Using ethanol for instance to fuel a car has measurable benefits of GHG emissions reduction as compared to gasoline. When using ethanol to power vehicles, carbon dioxide is released but it would offset to the CO2 captured while growing crops to produce ethanol. Therefore, the flexible fuel vehicles running on ethanol produce less carbon dioxide as compared to vehicles that run on conventional fuels. A study done by the Argonne National Laboratory in 2007 have found that by replacing conventional fuels by biomass enhanced fuels, the GHG emissions life cycle reduce by 19%-52% as shown in the figure below. However, using cellulosic ethanol provides greater environmental benefits by cutting off the GHG emissions by up to 86% .

the figure below. However, using cellulosic ethanol provides greater environmental benefits by cutting off the GHG emissions by up to 86%.

Economical Competitiveness

Processing agricultural products has been followed as a strategy for agricultural rural development. Bio-fuels provide greater economical benefits if their biomass were producible with low agricultural value (less pesticides, fertilizers and energy). In other words to be equitable the energy required to convert the biomass feedstock to bio-fuel should be less than the net energy produced for consumption. Processing plants and adding value to farming products can create employment opportunities and can also create an economic outgrowth. Farmers should benefit from receiving a higher price for the crops they grow. Even if the agricultural production responds to the increased demand by increasing supply, so long as it does not increase as much as demand, farmers will enjoy higher prices. Even if there is a one-to-one response, farmers will take pleasure in higher revenues from increased manufacture at the same value. As for the United states for example there is a surplus of biomass in rural areas and families are always eager to maintain their traditional lifestyles, so this is seen as an opportunity to manufacture biodiesel out of the soybean and bio-ethanol from corn.


With the increase demand on alternative energy resources, demand for land increases. Therefore, demand for bio-fuel derived from sugar beet , sugar cane and corn increases and this would alter the current land uses. By that certain policies and regulations must be enforced to ensure no deforestation, land deprivation, low-fertile soils and affiliated rise in carbon dioxide outputs. Many crops including corn and small grains are sometimes left at the field to minimize soil corrosion as show in the images below. So basically by removing those residues the surface area of land will reduce leaving it more vulnerable for erosion. Perennial crops harvest methods are much more forgiving crops to above-ground biomass harvest impacts on soil erosion leaving sufficient surface areas When farmers start growing biomass for bio-fuel production they should cautiously consider strategies such as crop rotation and cover cropping to reduce soil erosion specially while adopting new assembly practices.


In conclusion, for a fuel to be a viable substitute for fossil fuels it must have superior environmental and economical benefits and certain criteria such as low CO2 emissions efficient, eco-friendly and cost-effective form of energy. Even in blended forms of fuels (conventional and biomass) there is still a probability of reducing carbon dioxide emissions. The change would replace the exponential growth rate of CO2 emissions with a linear growth rate which will lead to a permanent restrained global warming effect.

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